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Following the delay to Winter sports due to Covid-19 in New Zealand, Football South’s clubs are excited to get the community game going again.
With many regional competitions already underway, our pinnacle competitions – The Kingsgate Women’s Premier League (WPL), and the Otago Daily Times Southern Premier League (SPL), finally kick off this weekend.
Due to the shortened season window competition formats have been altered slightly. In the WPL the seven teams will compete over two full rounds, rather than the usual three – with the competition concluding around September 19th. The SPL’s nine teams will play one full round, at which point the league will be split into a top-4 and bottom-5 competition for the Premier League.
In the WPL, Dunedin Technical AFC open their title defence on Friday night at the Logan Park artificial turf against a Mosgiel side who were new to the league in 2019. With senior players Mikaela Hunt, Coral Seath and Jade Middleditch moving out of the region, Tech will be without three key players who helped them to their Kate Shepherd Cup title win in 2018.
However, with some young new additions such as Georgia Kennedy, Teyha Sweeney and Lauren Patterson, Head Coach Craig Johnston has seen positive signs in pre-season.
“We have some exciting young players at the club so a major objective for us this season is to develop our younger players and give them lots of game time.
“We had a positive run out at the weekend against a Tech youth squad, and a good training session this week.”
He saw positive performances from Mosgiel last season, and with more experience under their belts he expects them to have improved again this season.
“They are well set up, very quick, and have a good coaching team,” stated Johnston.
Otago University’s two sides were due to play each other on Saturday but have deferred their game to July 8th with several players still to return from the University break and Covid-19 related absences.
Head Coach Stu Moffatt is looking to see some of the new scholarship players in action. Amy Hislop, who signed for Otago University following her move from Queenstown to Dunedin to study, is particularly excited following her breakthrough season at Southern United in the National League where she won both the team’s golden boot and youth breakthrough awards. Toni Powers, who was involved in the Future Ferns Development Programme (FFDP), and Nadege Salvador are also players to watch out for.
The final WPL fixture this weekend will see Roslyn Wakari AFC host Queenstown AFC with both clubs looking to kick-start their title push.
Head Coach Hamish Philip expects a tough game, but is happy with the commitment from the three Roslyn teams who have been training together during pre-season. “There is a lot of excitement and competitive passion going into the season.”
With the clubs unfortunate loss of the Baldwin sisters who have moved to complete their study in Hamilton, Roslyn are excited to welcome back Sammy Murrell who has returned after spending time at Harvard University in America.
“Our focus for this season is the development pathway, and pushing for that first spot finish,” states Philip.
Green Island AFC start the season with a bye and will kick off their season next weekend against Dunedin Tech.
In the SPL Dunedin Tech kick off against Roslyn Wakari at Tahuna Park. With some players still returning to training post Covid-19, Tech Coach Malcolm Fleming states his main focus for this shorter season is to: “Get through the season, have a crack and give everyone in the team opportunities to play.”
With younger players coming up through the ranks, mixed with some of Tech’s existing key players including Ash Watson, Chris Booker, and Michael Nelson, Fleming is aiming for a top four placing this season.
Fleming expects Roslyn to be well organised this weekend, and wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more goals across the league than usual in the opening few weeks due to teams returning from the extended break.
Wanaka AFC is up against rivals Queenstown AFC, with nerves high about what to expect after a quick turn-around.
“The boy’s are chomping at the bit to get started” states Wanaka Head Coach Ian Bell. With six undefeated games last year, Bell is targeting a top four finish this season. A tough game is expected but with key players Adam Hewson, Fletcher Cavanagh and keeper Britton Dowling, they are ready to get the season started.
Green Island are kick-starting the season at their home ground Sunnyvale against Mosgiel AFC Prems this weekend. With some player losses this season, coach Shane Carvell says his objective is: “Rebuilding the team and continuing the development of players within the squad.”
Carvell is happy with Green Islands fitness levels after their commitment to fitness training programs over lockdown, and is pleased they got two training games in pre-Covid-19.
“With Mosgiel being made up of mostly locals, and having pre-season training with their full team, this will benefit them come Saturday,” says Carvell. With Green Island using their reserves this week due to awaiting student players, “it could go both ways.”
Caversham AFC start the season with a bye, giving them an extra week of training in the lead up against Dunedin Technical next weekend.
Otago University AFC was due to play Northern AFC this Saturday, however they have agreed to defer with both teams still awaiting the arrival of multiple players due to Covid-19 absences.
Updated scores, tables and match results will be made live over the weekend.